AvStop Magazine Online
Of more than 200 Americans who flew for France during WWI, one of particular uniqueness was Eugene Bullard, the only Black pilot of WWI. A great tribute to Bullard is found in the famous book by Nordhoff and Hall, The Lafayette Flying Corps, published in 1920. "The writer will never forget one occasion when he was waiting at 23 Avenue du Bois to see Dr. Gros. Suddenly the door opened to admit a vision of military splendor such as one does not see twice in a lifetime. It was Eugene Bullard.
His jolly black face shone with a grin of greeting and justifiable vanity. He wore a pair of tan aviator's boots which gleamed with a mirror-like luster. His black tunic, excellently cut and set off by a fine figure, was decorated with a pilot's badge, a Croix de Guerre, the fourragere of the Foreign Legion, and a pair of enormous wings, which left no possible doubt, even at a distance of fifty feet, as to which arm of the Service he adorned. The eleces-pilotes gasped, the eyes of the neophytes stood out from their heads, and I repressed a strong instinct to stand at attention.
There was scarcely an American at Atord who did not know and like Bullard. He was a brave, loyal, and thoroughly likable fellow, and when a quarrel with one of his superiors caused his withdrawl from the Aviation, there was scarcely an American who did not regret the fact. He was sent to the 170th French Infantry Regiment in January, 1918..." Following WWI, Bullard remained in France until the German occupation of Paris in 1940, at which time he had to flee the country because of his previous activities of spying against the Nazis. He returned to the U.S. and lived in New York City until his death in 1961. Thus passed from the scene the first black pilot in the history of military aviation.
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